Contactless bags and recycling are among the highlights of the new 2020 Corporate Social Responsibility Report from Southeastern Grocers (SEG).
The parent company of BI-LO, Fresco y Más, Harveys Supermarket and Winn-Dixie grocery stores says that it is enhancing its long-term commitment to people, products and the planet.
Among the ways it is doing so is via its $250,000 to Feeding America’s COVID-19 Response fund as well as $50,000 in shelf-stable products to food banks that were having a hard time keeping their shelves stocked.
As well, SEG stores encouraged customers to purchase $5 touch-free hunger donation bags at the register during checkout. A total of $1.3 million was raised to provide immediate food assistance to local food banks during the pandemic.
The SEG Gives Foundation also partnered with its Northeast Florida neighbors at the St. Augustine Distillery to donate more than 2,000 1-liter bottles of hand sanitizer to police and fire departments serving on the frontlines in Duval, St. Johns, Clay, Nassau and Flagler counties.
Not everything in the 52-page report concerns the pandemic.
For instance, SEG says it is proactively taking steps to understand and reduce its impact on the environment — a reflection of the larger food retail trend toward more sustainability. For years, the grocer has worked towards lessening its amount of waste generated and has placed an emphasis on recycling in stores and at distribution centers. Last year, the grocer recycled more than 74,000 tons of cardboard, saving 1.25 million trees. SEG also follows the Environmental Protection Agency’s Food Recovery Hierarchy to reduce food waste. Increased resource efficiencies through lighting, refrigeration, water use and beyond is also a top priority to ensure store operations are environmentally responsible for the needs and longevity of the community and the planet.
Since 2016, SEG has remained committed to sourcing produce from local farms and orchards, whenever possible, to provide customers with the freshest produce while mitigating waste and limiting unnecessary transportation emissions. The grocer is also focused on offering an increased selection of plant-based meats that provide a smaller greenhouse gas footprint, sourcing sustainable seafood and only working with suppliers who keep animal rights at the forefront of operations.
Anthony Hucker, president and CEO for Southeastern Grocers, said in the report, “Our associates, customers and communities are at the heart of everything we do. Providing our customers and communities with a shopping experience they can always count on is why we exist — and it’s that commitment to being a trusted retailer that inspires us every day to take actions that will bring about a brighter, healthier, happier tomorrow.”
The release of this new SEG report comes amid similar efforts from other food retailers — efforts made more important in many cases because of the ongoing pandemic. In recent days, for instance, PCC Community Markets, the largest community-owned food market in the United States said, as part of its own report, that it had donated some 1.4 million meals to neighborhood food banks and other organizations in 2020.
In other actions — and to help associates, customers and communities celebrate diversity — SEG also said it has launched several initiatives to provide inspiration and opportunities for all community members to break barriers and push for equity. The grocer has also launched seven diverse resource groups and implemented training sessions to provide education and help encourage constructive conversations among associates on belonging, inclusion and diversity.
Jacksonville, Florida-based SEG is one of the largest conventional supermarket companies in the United States, with grocery stores, liquor stores and in-store pharmacies serving communities throughout Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina and South Carolina. The company is No. 34 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer's 2020 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.